Monday, December 23, 2013

37 Things You'll Regret At The End Of 2014

Last week, Buzzfeed ran up one of its longer but curiously more profound lists entitled "37 Things You'll Regret When You're Old." Although littered with GIFs (as Buzzfeed tends to do), the actual list is worthy enough of attention.

In fact, I'm posting the list with my own commentary here as 37 Things You'll Regret At The End Of 2014. Because I don't think there's anything here I or anyone else would be unable to pull off in the next year.

...and doing so would make it a hell of a good year!

Here's your checklist:

37 Things You'll Regret At The End Of 2014

1. Not traveling when you had the chance.
Make a trip this year. It doesn't have to be to another country, but make a point of going somewhere...preferably on a plane, and preferably as a full-blown tourist. You can worry about dreamlining and "going native" in the Tim Ferriss sense some other time, but if it's been a while since you've gone outside of your glass and concrete filing cabinet, get out in the world.

2. Not learning another language.
This is ridiculously easy. Choose one: Berlitz or Pimsleur (I prefer Pimsleur myself). Take six weeks and get fluent enough to order dinner in the country you're traveling to in #1 above.

3. Staying in a bad relationship.
Not my personal issue, but if you're in a bad relationship, fix it. As the meme says, if you choose to stay in a bad relationship you're making a choice to be unhappy.

4. Forgoing sunscreen.
Not much to say here. Sun burns suck. Skin cancer sucks worse. It's not hard to grease up before hitting the beach or slopes, so just take the time and do it right.

5. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.
I blew this one in 2013 by missing out on seeing Black Sabbath in Toronto. They're playing Winnipeg in April...I may have to do something about that, because a long time ago I held tickets to see Ozzy in Winnipeg, and missed out because my ride bailed.

6. Being scared to do things.
"What are you waiting for? If you cannot answer this without restoring to the previously-rejected concept of 'good timing,' the answer is simple: you're afraid." Yup. Another Tim Ferriss reference.

7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority.
This has become my priority since kicking off last year's list of goals. I made it to the best shape of my life, and this year will mark the beginning of what I hope will be a lifetime of peak physical condition (I'm already regretting ancient shoulder and knee injuries that have reared their ugly heads again, however...)

8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.
We've already established the fact that I built a fairy garden for my daughter, and she liked it a lot. She also likes big construction machines. My gender roles aren't at stake...I can cook and sew, and I want her to change tires and saw wood. That's how my parents did it, and my sisters and I are quite functional thanks very much.

9. Not quitting a terrible job.
Paying the bills is one thing. Doing so at the expense of your soul and dignity is another thing altogether. Find some bliss and get the hell out. It's OK to fire a crappy boss (just get your bases covered before you do!).

10. Not trying harder in school.
I'm a terrible student in a lot of ways. But this is the year to take on learning something new, and when you do, settle for nothing less than the highest grades possible, even if you have to take the webinar five times before you can score a perfect quiz.

11. Not realizing how beautiful you were.
Feel better about yourself. You're amazing, and you work like a beast. Revel in that fact. In fact, ask your youngest how they think you look. You'll be surprised at how amazing you'll feel when you just learn to love yourself as much as they do.

12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”
Nothing else to say about this.

13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.
Well, they may not have been right about everything, but a good quote from my dad may suffice: "Anything you're thinking of doing I've already done, screwed up, and paid for."

14. Spending your youth self-absorbed.
Yup...being too self-absorbed is one of the downfalls of "kids today." But hey, we did it too, and in retrospect it is embarrassing. Do some analysis and see whether you're still doing this...and then knock it off!

15. Caring too much about what other people think.
Down the road you won't care about those people and they won't care about you. So just ignore their opinions and get on with your life.

16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.
I'm a big proponent of supporting others, but don't lose sight of your own dreams and goals. You have a right to their support too.

17. Not moving on fast enough.
Don't waste time getting over things. Get up, dust off, and get back in the game. Major tragedies notwithstanding, most incidents are just blips on the radar of your life. What could you do with that year instead of wallowing in self-pity?

18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.
Get over it.

19. Not standing up for yourself.
Grow some and don't take crap from anyone...least of all that bad relationship, crummy job, and people who don't support your dreams.

20. Not volunteering enough.
Contribution is a major source of personal satisfaction, and a terrific networking tool as well. Don't go to the end of your life, or even this coming year, without having given something back. The benefits to your whole outlook on life will far outweigh any potential sacrifices you make with your time.

21. Neglecting your teeth.
Brush. Floss. Do it. It's not hard, and it actually goes a long way to improving your overall health. I don't care if they're a bit stained from coffee; mine are. But proper oral hygiene reduces a pile of health risks, from cardiac disease to cancers. And you'll never regret going to the grave with your own teeth! (Plus, maintenance is cheaper than repair.)

22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.
I was fortunate enough to have had some very good conversations with my grandparents while they were alive. Even if you don't have any specific questions, just get them talking. They love to talk about their lives and the past. Make a point of getting them started, and enjoy every word. This year, if your grandparents are no longer around, find an older person and strike up a conversation anyway. I have yet to meet someone over the age of 70 who doesn't like to talk when there's a willing ear to listen. It'll brighten their day, and you'll walk away wiser.

23. Working too much.
Do you wish you'd spent more time at the office? probably won't later in life either. So for this year, leave the office at the office.

24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.
If you're kitchen impaired, fix it now. Cooking is easy, and if you have one go-to meal that's a guaranteed winner you'll never be at a loss for a dinner party, date, or any other occasion. You can have lots of simple meals, but here we're talking about something amazing and mind-blowing. The internet is your friend. Find out how to do this and you'll be a rock star whenever you make it happen.

25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.
Life is full of moments that really need your attention. Take some of those moments seriously and make the most of them. Those become things you'll later recall as memories. Why not have a bunch from this year?

26. Failing to finish what you start.
Get the job done. That's all there is to it.

OK, I have to go back to my philosophy that if something sucks or isn't productive you can and should cut it loose and stop wasting time on it. There's no use in the old work-for-work's-sake mentality when it's a waste of time. But don't mistake that for an excuse to bail when things get hard. If you start a project or a course with the intent of making yourself better in some way, finish it. You'll never regret the time spent.

27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.
I like this one. I'm working on a card trick right now. I'll let you know how it goes.

28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.
I'm not sure what to do with this one. But be on the lookout. If someone says, "we don't do that," do it anyway. The fallout will probably be so minuscule they won't remember it anyway (and if they do, who cares?).

29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.
Sometimes friendships end. That's OK. Let them. There's a natural progress to all relationships, and clinging to something because of established cultural norms (there's one for #28!) of "friends for life" can really be frustrating. If you're not into the same stuff anymore, just move on.

30. Not playing with your kids enough.
No explanation necessary. Put down the remote and go outside.

31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).
Leaps of faith present themselves all the time. Maybe it's time you took one. Sure, it could be in love, but any time a big risk presents itself, the results are always life-changing. Do a little risk analysis and see how much is really at stake.

32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.
Do some serious networking this year. Make things happen. You'll always have those people in your contacts, and there will always be an opportunity to build your brand, but not if you're isolated from the world. Get to know people. They'll help you on your path.

33. Worrying too much.
It's probably not that big a deal, and it'll blow over. Worry if your plane is currently going down over the Atlantic. In pretty well every other circumstance, give it your concern and then either correct it or come to grips with it.

34. Getting caught up in needless drama.
Drama is generally perpetuated by the self-absorbed. Distance yourself from it as quickly as possible.

35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.
Just make it happen. It can be time on the phone, on Skype, or in person. Regardless, this is the most important improvement you can make to your life this year, because it will improve everyone's life this year.

36. Never performing in front of others.
I'm a musician, so this is a given for me. But I haven't done a concert in a while, so it's fortunate I was approached last week with the opportunity to present a Cole Porter program in February with a group of singers. Should be fun!

37. Not being grateful sooner.
You're incredibly lucky. You have a place to live. You have food. You have people around you. Chances are the people surrounding you aren't at constant war with each other (I hope). Take some time each day to count your blessings. It's hard at first, but over time you'll start to find your outlook is greatly improved.


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